Direct Mail Strategy: Direct Mail Road Signs
A hot spot is where your eye goes first when you look at a postcard, outer envelope, catalog spread, direct mail letter, space ad or even an e-mail.
Most of us had our first experience with hot spots in elementary school when we looked for easy ways to study for tests. We wanted to pick out key points to review without rereading entire chapters. What did we do?
We looked at chapter titles, subheads, terms in boldface type, maps, charts, graphs, photos and the captions under them. In other words, we looked at hot spots. From this experience, we’ve trained ourselves to look for eye-grabbing design and copy elements. We use these road signs for scanning copy and deciding whether or not we’ll read the rest.
Here are 10 things every direct mail writer, designer and approving manager should know about hot spots; nine tips for putting these road signs in action; and six techniques to avoid.
What You Need to Know
1. All direct response formats have hot spots. This applies to postcards, self-mailers, letters, envelopes, brochures, order forms, catalogs, e-mail, space ads and even buck slip inserts.
2. Some hot spots are innate to the direct mail component in which they’re found, such as the return address on an outer envelope or the salutation or P.S. in a letter. (Did you know 30 percent of the people read the P.S. first?)
3. Other hot spots are created to capture and direct the reader’s attention, such as the dot-whack teaser on an outer envelope or corner slash on a catalog cover.
4. Outer envelope hot spots include: corner card/return address in the upper left-hand corner, addressing, postage, teaser copy on front or back, and the back flap.
5. A checklist of letter hot spots includes: letterhead/masthead, salutation, first sentence, first paragraph, Johnson box area in the upper-right corner, last paragraph, signature and title, P.S., P.P.S., P.P.P.S., copy underlined or indented, bulleted or boldface copy, indented subheads, and handwriting in the margins.